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TV men Jimmy Spencer, Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds tell it like it is....and are apparently getting chewed out for it

  Kyle Petty, Mr. No-nonsense, worries that NASCAR is rudderless right now (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   It's sponsorship hunting season, deep into sponsorship hunting season, for NASCAR teams and NASCAR's television partners too. And with the National Football League setting TV ratings records this fall, and with the World Series hot, and with the opening of National Basketball Association looking solid too, well, selling ads for the Daytona 500 and other 2010 events may not be easy, particularly with NASCAR's TV ratings going down, down, down.
   That 2.9 TV rating for Sunday's Martinsville 500 may well have been the low point for the sport over the past three years.
   California's Gillian Zucker concedes that ticket renewals for the two California 500 races are "very low," which means people come to see a race and then don't come back.
   Now comes word that Daytona officials are taking down some of the backstretch grandstands – which weren't even opened for last July's 400, because of sluggish ticket sales.
   And with Jimmie Johnson making a rout of the championship chase, it's hard to find much to write about, eh?
   All this is nothing new.
   Well, veteran reporter Dustin Long just stepped to the plate, and here are some bits from his recent series of stories, from interviews with Jimmy Spencer, Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds, which caused so much controversy.
   Now Spencer, Petty and McReynolds didn't say anything that fans in the stands or on their living room couches can't see and haven't talked about themselves, or others in the NASCAR garage.
   However the three TV men may have been chewed out for their recent interview about the state of the sport. And some now wonder if there might be repercussions from their TV bosses when contract renewal time rolls around.
   Jimmy Spencer: The sport is in serious trouble.
   Kyle Petty: The sport is not headed anywhere.
   Spencer: We can't have Mr. (Rick) Hendrick keep dominating this sport. They've got something, and it's an advantage. Bill France (Jr.) would never go to sleep until he figured out how to make it more balanced.
   Larry McReynolds, on the car-of-tomorrow: "You can't race when you’re standing on a razor blade the whole time. Our old car…if you put half a round of bite in it, (and) you'd go dad-gumit 'that was the wrong way, get that back out.'  Now you put a half turn in, you're half a turn away from hell.
   "…What really scares me is they're (NASCAR) getting ready to do the same thing to the Nationwide series."
   Petty: "We're on the verge…of repeating exactly what happened to CART and IRL….we stand right on the edge of that abyss ready to leap into it."
   McReynolds says the print media has focused too much on the negatives: "Where we're at with the sport…our media, I call them our pencil pushers, have not helped."
   Petty, on the electronic media: "Sirius Radio…some of those people ...shouldn't be hosting those shows…They give so much misinformation…"
   Petty, on drivers today being too 'plain vanilla': "Tony (Stewart) ventured out there, and they slapped his hand. Kyle (Busch) ventures out there, everybody hates him. What's driving the personality…is the sponsor dollars and TV -- and all the things that we always hoped and dreamed and wished we had.
    "Now that we got them, we don't know what to do with them, because we're not controlling them, they're controlling us.
    "Earnhardt was the last of that era who was what he was when TV got here and it didn't change him. Everybody else is product of the TV generation."

  Jimmy Spencer -- never afraid to speak his mind, no matter what the consequences. And he says this sports "is in serious trouble," in part because the car-of-tomorrow is just too darned finicky for good racing at too many tracks (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Well I'm shocked and amazed

Well I'm shocked and amazed and have to give you credit for repeating at least a part of Larry Mac's identification of one of the big problems the sport, and society, has - the excessive, never ending negativity of the media, especially the NASCAR print media. Richard in N.C.

Figures doesn't it? NASCAR

Figures doesn't it? NASCAR has once more clamped the lid on any real discussion by the media. As you said, the fans already talk about it. the racing has become not worth watching because there isn't any real competition. No side by side racing (except at Martinsville) but at most of the bigger tracks, its nothing more than a high speed parade. No wonder people have lost interest. I was going to say "are", but that isn't correct. People HAVE lost interest. Johnson has been dominant during NASCAR's poor excuse for a championship and that was interesting the first couple of years, but after 4 seasons, the "new" has worn off unless your a Johnson fan, in which case you're thrilled.

So, like many others, I'm done paying attention for the rest of the season. Why bother? Johnson has a lock on the Chase, the car will still be ugly and drive badly and the racing will be boring at the cookie cutter tracks and ESPN's coverage will be awful.

Hey, Brian, Mike, Robin and Poston, caught a clue yet?



NASCAR's response to this is

NASCAR's response to this is just sad, insinuating that the networks should do something to the three. Sad that Larry Mac has to backpedal and blame Dustin Long. And Petty is right, that entire Sirius lineup is is one long list of Koolaide drinking ISC employees. They don't have an original thought between them.


WTCC, my friends, is some of

WTCC, my friends, is some of the most exciting racing right now.
Real stars racing REAL CARS!
Running up to 180 mph in race cars fabricated from true STOCK CARS.

I started to follow WTCC about 2 years ago as I lost interest in NASCAR.
I went to my first NASCAR event in April of 1970 at Darlington Speedway.
I was a die-hard fan up to 2003/2004. Now I will check the web to see what is going on, I never watch and sometimes will listen to MRN if nothing else is going on.

Some things that drove me away:
>cost of tickets and attending an event
>the cost of racing
>driver salary
>Qualifying is just stupid
>COT is lame (NASCAR, doesn’t the S mean STOCK?)
>Tracks (N.Wilksboro, Rockingham,(really miss them) and how about Road America, Mid-Ohio, Madison…I hate Chicago, Dallas, California, Kentucky, etc. If Chicagoland had been a Bristol/Martinsville type track WOW.)
>Make the BGN series its own series, not a Cup Lite series. Companion races maybe 6 to 8 times per year, otherwise go to other smaller tracks.
If BGN coupled with the new pony cars became a rebirth of the Grand Am series…..
Camero, Mustang race cars built on the the factory platform racing at Mid-Ohio, Virginia Raceway, Road Atlanta, Lime Rock….but also at Springfield, IL, Eldora, Toledo, Rockford, Now that would be a show worth buying to ticket to see.

David in Chicago

I agree with the loss of

I agree with the loss of interest. My entire family used to be couch potatos at race time. Now, maybe but mostly not. Just tune in later to see if Jimmy, Jeff or Kyle won and hope for a surpise.

NASCAR powers that be are really messing things up. They forget from whence they came.

I definitely like it when someone tells it like it is, whether it is someone I pull for or not. I even had to "almost" like Kyle B this year for some of his comments. But I got over it.:)

NO=ow dare NASCAR now dare

NO=ow dare NASCAR now dare them! While Nascar is talking about having members of the press fired for criticizing them the fans know who needs to be fired and it's to men Brian France and Mike Helton period. Also Nascar needs to remember that they WORK for the fans not the other way around. It becomes harder and harder for me to stomach spending one cent of my hard earned money on this sport and with out me and other fans like me and our hard earned money Nascar would broke and out of busyness.

NASCAR has never fined a

NASCAR has never fined a media member for making critical comments. They don't have the right, or the ability, so that assertion is patently ridiculous. And those three criticizing ANYONE for being negative is ironic in the extreme! Two "never was" drivers and a know-it-all former crewchief; who cares what they think???

Of course NASCAR can't 'fine'

Of course NASCAR can't 'fine' the media. However Media is allowed to cover NASCAR races only with NASCAR permission; there is no 'right' to cover a NASCAR race...and these days there is sometimes great difficulty in determining just who is legitimate media. And NASCAR this year has raised the issue of possibly rejecting specific reporters because of the content of their reporting. Too, NASCAR's official 'social media' list could be seen more for who has been rejected than who has been accepted. NASCAR executives can easily bar anyone from any event for any reason. After all, this isn't so much a sport as it is a private family business.

I was cheering when I heard

I was cheering when I heard these guys speaking the truth! No one else has the guts to say what is really going on with the sport. So now does Nascar have the power to tell every media outlet what they are allowed to say? That may have worked in the past Mr. France, but in today's internet society, it won't work. Read what is being said by the fans. Let the drivers race and let the media discuss and debate!

As a fan, the only power I have is to close my wallet. I've been going to races for a half of a century, but stopped when the COT came out. I also have not and will not spent one penny on Nascar gear since they sold their soul for profit and greed.

And if Speed puts a muzzle on these guys who are known for their humor and honesty, I'm calling my cable company and having it turned off. BEFORE the banquet. I honestly don't know what else to do

I've always admired Kyle

I've always admired Kyle Petty's and Jimmy Spencer's willingness to speak their mind, and I've always admired Larry Mac's wisdom about the sport....they're only saying what fans have been saying among themselves for sometime now. and it's a shame that nascar is being run by people now who have such little real 'feel' for the sport. and it's really a bit surprising that some of nascar's pr people are so out of the loop on the media and the fans today. I think Jim France, the man who owns this sport and runs it, needs to call a meeting of his top execs and straighten them out.
one problem for fans -- tv has become the only media power in the sport, because of the mass suicide of newspapers from coast to coast. the print media used to have enough power and clout to try to keep nascar straight, but there's virtually no print media left covering this sport...and the print media that does show up is now, well, rather lackluster and ill-informed about the sport, to put it mildly. the 'net does have some good, insightful sites, but it's sometimes hard to find them (and it can be hard to sort out the nascar-fanboy media from hard-nosed media).
of course nascar isn't the only sport struggling to find media coverage that is both solid, reliable and consistent: consider murray chass' take on the World Series: http://bit.ly/1N5bCG Chass is in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his outstanding sports coverage for the New York Times.

Nascar racing has gone down

Nascar racing has gone down hill ever since Toyota arrived. When they came to the truck series, it was just a matter of time until they bought themselves a championship. All we heard from the worst broadcast team in racing, Toyota did this and Toyota did that and it is a sweep for Toyota. What Nascar has forgotten is that the Big Three got them where they are. All those growing years, it was GM, Ford, and Mopar paid their dues. Good times and bad, they were there. Then DW got two pockets full from Toyota and got his brother a money printing machine. Where would Toyota be if Gibbs never sold out.
The car COT racing is horrible and I and all my friends use to fill a bus to go to Daytona, Charlotte, Dover, and Bristol. Thats 4 races times 35 people. How many more of you that are passing on the car of tomorrow.

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